Love comes in small packages

February 29, 2008 1 Comments A+ a-

Trip to Haiti was a long day, but went without a hitch. I took an 0600 flight to MIA, and met Kathy and Patty in MIA...Kathy lives there, Patty flew in from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW).

From there, we flew into Port Au Prince (PAP) where our Haitian contact, Maryse, was waiting to meet us and make things happen for us, without the red tape. We deplaned, and she walked us to the counter, where the Moms were with their babies. Initially, three babies were coming back with us--but, one didn't have all the paperwork done, so we brought back two: Skyline and Widline (sky-leen and wid-leen).

Skyline has a cleft palate and had already had her first surgery, which was to repair her was a beautiful job, and you had to really look to see that she had had any surgery at all. Here is her "before" picture, just before her lip surgery was done several months ago.

Here she is post-op. (I stole these pictures off the Angel Missions Haiti website...)

I don't have a pretty picture of her face as it is now--just know that her lip surgery was so beautifully done, you have to really look to see that she even had any surgery. And, she is a big 14 month old now. (If you click on this picture it will come up larger, and you can see closer how her lip looks...)

This is Widline--she was born without some of her necessary parts (I'll just leave it at that) and is scheduled for a couple of YEARS worth of surgeries--that she has a 50-50 shot of surviving! She is precious--and TINY! 4 months old and she might weigh 10 pounds!

We arrived, went into the terminal with Maryse, waited about 15 minutes with the children's family members (who spoke no English, and we did not speak their French dialect, for sure!) while Maryse took care of all the necessary documents and boarding passes for us. We hugged them goodbye and Maryse whisked us through security and passport control--there is no official record of us arriving or departing Haiti, no passport stamp given--talk about cutting through the red tape! We were back on the same aircraft we arrived on. We were in Haiti maybe a total of 60 minutes.

This was in PAP, right before we boarded the plane. Kathy holding Widline, Maryse, me, Patty and Skyline.

When we got to MIA, we had to go through Passport Control/Immigration. We needed to ask that Widline be given an extended visa--the people there were so very nice, and I asked for a year for her and got it. (That saves the mission about $300 not having to renew it in six months.) Skyline only needed a couple of months, but he gave her six.

I would like to personally thank each and every family that, for whatever reason, has left a stroller at Baggage Claim in the Miami Airport. One of you saved our arms and gave us some needed relief, and from the bottom of my heart, I thank you! Especially thank you to the family that left the double stroller two years ago--we were able to use it and donate it to the family that is taking these babies. (FYI--there were over 200 baby strollers at the lost and found--how does someone lose a baby stroller???) We had five hours between flights so, having that stroller was a lifesaver.

Since there were only two babies, it wasn't necessary for Kathy to stick around, so she went home. Patty and I went to the American Airlines crew lounge and set up camp with the kids in a quiet corner, got everyone fed and changed and happy. The children slept all the way to Greensboro, NC (GSO) which is where the mission people met us to pick up the children. They dropped us off at our hotel around midnight--it took no time at all for me to fall asleep!! I flew home the next morning.

So, if anyone is interested in the group that is helping these precious children, it is the Angel Missions Haiti. They work on a shoestring budget--and how Airline Ambassadors ties in is that instead of one or two of the Mission's people having to purchase airline tickets to fly down and pick up the babies, we were able to use our employee flight benefits and fly down at no cost, and escort the infants (no charge for them) back to the folks from the Mission. It saves the Mission several hundred to a thousand or so dollars.

I know I'll be checking their website to follow the progress of these babies--they touch people when you least expect it. On one of our flights, a female AA pilot was sitting across from me, and she said, "If you need a break, I'm happy to help." After a while, I needed to get something out of the overhead bin, so I handed the sleeping Widline to her. They were both so happy--the pilot and the baby. So, I went to the front and started yakking with the Flight Attendant, then came back and started taking Widline out of the pilot's arms. Just as I leaned down for the baby, the pilot blurted, "My husband was just diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor--holding her has been a religious experience for me." That stopped me right in my tracks and I placed the barely picked up baby back in her arms and said "You let me know when you are ready to give her back." And I sat down in my seat across from her, one row back.

I watched as the woman kept dabbing at her eyes, wiping away her tears, while holding the little Widline. I can't profess to know how she was feeling or what she was thinking, but I know that this little baby was a catalyst for good--some how, some way--for the lady. It was touching. Just before landing, I took the baby back, and as we deplaned, the pilot hugged my neck. I told her I would pray that she and her family found the strength they needed for the journey ahead, and she just shook her head up and down, tears once again forming....

These children gave so much--just by being. I doubt they will ever be aware of the lives they have affected. Love comes in tiny doses, and packs a big wallop!

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March 3, 2008 at 8:12 PM delete

Man, I'm having a tough time keeping my eyes from "sweating" since arriving in Alamogordo this afternoon; and your posts are not helping one bit!